HMM names South Korea’s first woman captain

Kyoung-ok Jun. Credit: IHS Markit/Hyundai

In less than a month, HMM has appointed another woman to a leadership position on one of its vessels.

On 26 December 2019, the company made Jun Kyung-ok the captain of the 8,600 TEU Hyundai Courage, which is deployed on HMM’s Korea-Middle East Express service. HMM is South Korea’s main container liner operator.

Jun, 38, is the first woman to be a ship captain in South Korea, a country known for its patriarchal attitudes.

Ship captains are responsible for the safety of all persons on board, as well as the management of the cargo being transported.

Jun joined HMM in February 2005 as a third officer after graduating from Korea Maritime University. She was promoted to second officer in 2006, and then first officer in 2008.

In her first year with the company, Jun sailed on bulk carriers and since then, she has been manning container ships.

Noting that her appointment came about 30 years after Korea Maritime University started admitting women, Jun said, “I hope that in around 10 years’ time, my female juniors will be in a more gender-equal society that will enable them to maintain this profession.”

Jun’s appointment came after HMM made Go Hae-yern the chief engineer of Hyundai Colombo on 12 December.

Shipping remains a male-dominated industry, but the manpower shortage has led to companies and countries encouraging women to enter the sector.

HMM’s representative told SAS that the appointments of Go and Jun are the result of their dedication to their work and does not signify a deliberate move to promote women.